Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE (Picture: Association for Project Management).
Army

COVID Support Force commander retires after 38 'amazing' Army years

Lieutenant General Sir Tyrone Urch led military’s role in constructing NHS Nightingale Hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.

Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE (Picture: Association for Project Management).

Lieutenant General Sir Tyrone Urch, who commanded the COVID Support Force, has retired from the British Army.

After 38 "amazing years" with the service and the Corps of Royal Engineers, the Commander Home Command and the Standing Joint Commander (UK) thanked those who shared his journey.

In November 2020, Lt Gen Urch received an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work during the pandemic – leading the commanding force responding to UK civil authority and public service requests during the pandemic.

The COVID Support Force helped to rapidly build NHS Nightingale Hospitals across multiple UK venues at the peak of crisis to ease the pressure on the medical facilities.

"Thank you to everyone who has shared this journey with me and helped to make me who I am today," Lt Gen Urch wrote on Twitter.

The Armed Forces' response to COVID-19 has become the biggest ever homeland military operation in peacetime, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The COVID Support Force was originally launched in March with 20,000 personnel on standby from all three services.

Within 10 days of a Government order of 28 February 2020 the London Nightingale was built through the efforts of Standing Joint Command, the NHS and civilian contractors.

Eventually, 11 Nightingale Hospitals were built around the country.

Watch: Lt Gen Tyrone Urch speaking about his open letter on racism within the Army.

Serving as a Race Champion within the Army's Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network, Lt Gen Urch represented minority views and experiences at Army Board level.

In June 2020, Lt Gen Urch wrote an open letter about tackling racism, following the Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd.

He wrote that the British Army was not "immune" to racism, despite progress within the service.

In 2019, Lt Gen Urch said the Army and its contractor Capita had "made some bad mistakes and some errors" in recruiting new soldiers since a £1.3bn deal was signed in 2012.

In 2020, the service hit its annual recruitment target for the first time, following a controversial campaign to attract gamers and 'snowflakes'.

Lt Gen Urch studied at Cranfield University and Kings College London, passing out of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an Army officer.